Family photo of the G20 Trade and Digital Economy Ministers in Tsukuba

Family photo of the G20 Trade and Digital Economy Ministers in Tsukuba

© BMWi/Eriksson

The meeting of G20 Trade and Digital Economy Ministers took place in Tsukuba, Japan, on 8 and 9 June 2019. Germany was represented by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier. The political priorities of the discussions included international cooperation on the digital policy framework, the current trade tensions, the future of the multilateral trading system and the creation of a level playing field.

Peter Altmaier said: “During these two very intensive days, the Federal Republic of Germany contributed to achieving results. The meeting of the Digital Economy Ministers has shown that the close cooperation between Japan and Germany, which we highlighted again last year, is bearing fruit, and we are determined to continue this successful cooperation with our Japanese friends at the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin at the end of this year.

In their final declaration, the Trade and Digital Economy Ministers expressed their concerns about the current trade tensions and the related risks for global growth, and agreed to intensify their joint efforts to reduce risks to international trade. Furthermore, the Trade Ministers committed to fight market distortions. The large majority called for an extension of the mandate on the work of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity beyond 2019. They also agreed to continue the work on the WTO reform to modernise the multilateral rules on trade. In this context, they also underlined the importance of the WTO work programme on e-commerce at WTO level to reduce trade barriers in the digital sector.
In addition, the Digital Economy Ministers pointed out in their declaration the significance of cross-border data flows and committed to new technologies, including the development of artificial intelligence (AI). However, they want digitisation to proceed in a socially responsible manner. For this purpose, a high level of data protection and principles on artificial intelligence, on which the Ministers agreed unanimously, need to be ensured.

Peter Altmaier said: “We had tough discussions among the Trade Ministers to agree on a joint position in view of the tensions and conflicts regarding world trade. These conflicts partly dominated the debates. We nonetheless succeeded in preventing a failure and agreed on a joint final statement. In this final declaration, we underlined again the importance of free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable world trade. And our intention to keep our markets open. This is not yet a solution for the open trade issues between China and the United States, between Europe and the United States, but in view of growing protectionism it is an important statement that we reached together.”

You can find the G20 Ministerial Statement on Trade and Digital Economy here and the Chairs’ Statement on trade issues by the host country Japan here.